Belfast Telegraph

Translink staff 'face 150 jobs axe'

Translink may have to lay off 150 people next year as part of a raft of cost saving measures, a Stormont scrutiny committee has heard.

The public transport operator, which is subsidised by the taxpayer, is considering rolling out a £10 million voluntary exit scheme to help plug a £25 million budget hole, it was revealed.

The plan was in a briefing paper submitted to the Department of Regional Development (DRD) committee.

Ukip MLA David McNarry said: "Translink's dilemmas seem to be never ending.

"It is a bit worrying and scary to read in the Department's draft today, of staff reductions, which are printed, could be 150 people costing £10 million in redundancies."

MLAs had summoned Translink bosses David Strahan and Ciaran Rogan as well as senior DRD official Ciaran Doran to explain the rationale behind recent fare increases.

David Strahan, who is to step down as Translink chief executive in September, warned the company was facing a bleak future.

He said: "The scale of the funding reductions that Translink faces both this year and next year means that Translink cannot continue without taking significant action.

"If Translink continues on the path it is currently on without taking action Translink, in a period of time, won't exist such is the scale of the funding reductions we face."

The committee was told that Translink has had its budget cut by about £10 million for 2015 and is facing a further £13 million reduction next year.

Other efficiencies designed to deal with the deficit include the "rationalisation" or reduction of frequency of bus services, fare increases and a review of management structures, MLAs were told.

Mr Doran warned that the bus and rail company would have to make "difficult decisions" if it was to balance the books and survive.

He said: "The department recognises that we are in a very serious position and that reinforces the rationale for immediate action around income generation and cost reduction.

"We believe that the package of measures which are set out in the paper which were essentially proposed by Translink in discussion with the department are a balanced first step and it will be an ongoing process."

The redundancy programme has not been formally approved by the Department of Finance and Personnel.

However, Mr McNarry raised concerns about costs to the public purse because the proposed severance scheme would be separate from the Northern Ireland Civil Service voluntary redundancy scheme which opened this week.

"If they are public sector workers why then would Executive money be used to pay for their redundancies?" Mr McNarry added.

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